Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cousins, cousins and more cousins!

It has been amazing! I’ve uncovered new cousins, found cousins I knew about but never knew personally and even had the pleasure of meeting some cousins. What wonderful discoveries!

I sure wish I had found these cousins some 20 years ago. How different our lives may have been if we had connected back then. Maybe more of us would have been able to meet in person, had family get-togethers and joining the Labers and Steuers again after the 1942 Passover Family Circle.

I’ve been able to uncover things I have in common with my cousins from only one filling, to painting, folk dancing (at one time in my life), appreciation of old family photos and sharing recipes. I just finished pickling some veggies two different ways. One was the old fashioned way as it was done in the 19th century Tarnow (sweet & sour) and the other a very traditional Ukrainian recipe (sour).

Rumors and legends are coming out…this just means more things to prove or dis-prove. Let’s see if now some truths can emerge from these rumors and legends. One legend I just disproved by looking at my records – Bertha Steuer and Abraham Unger married on 21 Mar 1916. Folklore is that Bertha passed from a heart condition (which is a known fact) the morning of their 50th anniversary and there was supposedly a big party. I don’t know the actual date of their anniversary party, but their 50th anniversary would have been the 21st of March 1966. According to the burial card for Bertha, she died 5 days after their anniversary.

I hope to hear more stories about family members. It’s nice getting to know them better, even though they are no longer with us.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Steuer Cousins Meet

Several Steuer cousins living in Israel met. We also all met our Judkowitz cousin, visiting his son from New York. We got together in Neve Sha’anan, Haifa since the majority of the cousins lived in Haifa or just outside of Haifa. I went early from Tsfat and met them earlier since I felt I already knew him via all of our Skype chats.

There were two cousins who are descendants of Moritz Steuer & Minna Gruenberg-they are second cousins and have known each other before list gathering. Then there was a cousin and her aunt (she’s 90 years old) who are descendants of Friederike Steuer & Moses Wachsner. Friederike and Moritz were brother and sister and two of Samuel and Eva (Fraenkel) Steuer’s children.

It was a great evening. Found out that Shmuel Meir Jurovics was ultra-orthodox. It was 1937 when the Gestapo came to his house looking for him, B”H he was at shul (it was Friday evening). After the Gestapo left, his wife, Edith Dvora
 Wachsner (our Steuer connection) packed a suitcase for her husband and send the suitcase and his passport with their youngest son to the shul. His son told him not to return home because the Gestapo is looking for him. Shmuel Meir went by train to Belgium to his brother’s. From Belgium he went to his sister’s house in New York.

Our other 90 year old cousin there was in the Jewish Brigade. His father, Fritz Michaelis, was a lawyer in the glass industry in Silesia. This meeting uncovered that two of our cousins’ fathers both had a hand in the Phoenicia Glass Factory in Haifa. Benjamin Jurovics was a Civil Engineer.

I was asked how I initially knew about the Samuel Steuer branch of the family by one of our 90 year old cousins. I had moved back in with my parents for a while and decided to look in the phone book to see if there were any Steuer’s in the area. It so happened there was a Steuer family that lived up the hill from us (about 2 minutes away). I called him and he invited me up to meet him. While I was there, he gave me a copy of a hand-written genealogy in German that had been written by his father, Rabbi Urlich Steuer. This cousin then told me that he remembers Urlich from when he was a child. Urlich was 13 years younger than his father.

Waiting to her more stories and memories.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Skeletons Popping Out!

A Laber cousin was a tall bombshell – slender, blonde and blue eyes and yes, she was 100% Jewish! They say all heads would turn when she would walk down the street. She joined burlesque and became a dancer, and it’s believed that she was actually a stripper (even though no one wanted to admit it). Her close friend was Gypsy Rose Lee.

Gypsy Rose Lee
It was during this time that she was friends with Gypsy Rose Lee that Millie changed her name to “Billie”. “Billie” was quite flamboyant and glamorous and it’s believed that “Billie” had more stage presence. The owner of the burlesque house, d Max Rudnick fell in love with her. He realized he was quite a bit older than she, and couldn't really keep up but he was crazy about her, so he turned his back to a lot of her partying. He used to say, "Let the kid have some fun." 

After Max's death, she was left a wealthy young widow, but unfortunately, she got involved with a string of wrong men. After the death of her second husband, Billie resided in Miami Beach at a suite in the very prestigious Fontainebleau Hotel. While she was living there, she got involved with a guy who had been a friend or her cousin. Apparently this new man had arranged a heist in her suite upstairs while he and Billie were having dinner in the hotel. She lost all her furs, diamonds, and a great deal of money that she kept hidden away upstairs.  After that, she was never the same. She moved to Las Vegas and went to work at Caesar's Palace.  

The really tragic thing in her life was that she died without her son in her life. She must have been ill for some time since she had carcinoma of the lungs. She died in a hospital back where she lived for many years and her sister still lived.